Tony Windsor attacks Coalition over CSG policy

INDEPENDENT Tony Windsor says the opposition is playing "both sides of the fence" on the issue of coal seam gas regulation after it was revealed a Coalition government would find ways to "get around" the water trigger legislation being considered by the Senate.

The bill to amend the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, making water a trigger for Federal Government intervention in coal and CSG approvals, passed the lower house and is due for a vote in the Senate on June 17.

Mr Windsor also succeeded in amending the bill to ensure there was federal oversight for all coal and CSG approvals.

The Coalition opposed Mr Windsor's amendment, but supported the bill in the lower house.

Opposition resources spokesman Ian Macfarlane told The Guardian while the Coalition was likely to support the bill's passage through the upper house, there was nothing preventing it in government from handing power back to the states for approvals.

It came after South Australian Senator Simon Birmingham hinted at the Coalition's position while debating the bill on May 14.

Senator Birmingham said while the Coalition had a number of concerns with the bill it would not allow Labor to "politicise" the issue by opposing it.

"We will work to fix these issues should we succeed later this year," Senator Birmingham told the Senate.

During a speech in the lower house last week Page MP Janelle Saffin described it as "duplicity".

Mr Windsor said any attempts to change the bill would "dilute" its effectiveness, and accused the Coalition of engaging in "trickery" on the issue.

And he reserved much of his criticism for Barnaby Joyce, his opponent in the seat of New England.

"Coalition MPs have been telling farmers one thing and miners another, but now it's time for them to actually make a decision," Mr Windsor said.

"In fact, Senator Joyce recently told people outside Mullaley Hall he would support the water trigger legislation and then proceeded to tell people inside the hall he would not support it in its current form.

"So do Senator Joyce and his Coalition colleagues intend to vote in the Senate on June 17 for a more rigorous federally-based approvals process for CSG and coal mining projects, or do they intend to dilute the new measures by referring assessments back to the states?"

In statements that will concern residents opposed to CSG expansion on the New South Wales North Coast, Mr Macfarlane also told The Guardian the O'Farrell government needed to approve more gas projects to avert the state's impending "gas crisis".